Skip to main content

Demonstrators, police take to streets in Bahrain

By Holly Yan and Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 10:27 PM EDT, Wed August 14, 2013
A Bahraini boy flashes the v-sign during the funeral of 10-year-old Ali Jaffer Habib, in the village of Malikiya, on August 10, 2013.
A Bahraini boy flashes the v-sign during the funeral of 10-year-old Ali Jaffer Habib, in the village of Malikiya, on August 10, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Opposition group says there were 60 protests in different areas
  • Government says militant activism has increased recently, vows to maintain stability
  • Lawmakers last month banned any demonstrations in the capital
  • Human rights groups have criticized the conduct of Bahraini authorities

(CNN) -- Protesters -- and police -- took to the streets in Bahrain Wednesday as two years of simmering unrest boiled over into demonstrations demanding reform.

Police fired tear gas to break up demonstrations. One opposition group said there were 60 protests in different areas.

The anti-government opposition bloc called for mass demonstrations in the tiny island kingdom Wednesday, trying to reignite an uprising in which the majority Shiite population protested against the ruling Sunni minority.

The government, meanwhile, said there has been an increase in militant activism in the country including injuries to security forces and civilians, and that authorities would act to maintain stability.

A government statement Wednesday elaborated, saying "In recent months, a series of militant tactics have been used across the country, including explosives, shotguns and rocket launchers amongst many others, all constructed in homes."

Wednesday marked the 42nd anniversary of British forces pulling out of the Gulf kingdom. The opposition is using the slogan "Bahrain Tamarod" echoing the name of Tamarod, the protest movement that overthrew former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy.

Ahead of Wednesday's protests, legislators last month banned any demonstrations in the capital, Manama. They also approved tough new penalties for those who commit or incite "terrorism," including stripping Bahrainis of citizenship.

The government statement Wednesday categorized those actions as "not based on people disagreeing with the government -- the purpose is to protect lives and livelihood of the majority of citizens."

And the statement said, "Bahrain has continued to allow citizens to exercise their right to express their grievances on various platforms, including in over 200 authorized rallies in the past year and half alone."

A dramatic escape from Bahrain
Formula One not so welcomed in Bahrain
2012: A revolution deferred in Bahrain

2011 crackdown

Spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahraini citizens demonstrated in early 2011, demanding democratic reforms and other changes in the way the country was run.

But the movement failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities. Bahraini security forces were backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Demonstrators say authorities killed dozens of citizens and arrested, tortured and sentenced hundreds of others.

Protests continue

Opposition leaders have tried to keep the protest movement alive.

"The thing about Bahrain is that nobody really knows what's going on there because there's not much media coverage but the protests never stopped," Maryam Alkhawaja, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, told CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom.

"Every single day between 15 to 25 different areas come out to protest in Bahrain. Every single day," said Alkhawaja.

But authorities have responded by continuing the crackdown.

Global human rights activists have denounced what they call appalling human rights abuses by Bahraini authorities.

In April, Human Rights Watch said security forces had raided homes and arbitrarily detained a number of prominent anti-government protest leaders.

Bahrain is an ally of the United States and home to the 5th Fleet, a large U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

Bahrain expels U.S. teacher, says she incited 'hatred'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT